What is the value of religion

IV. On the value of religion and religious communities

for the Luxembourg society

In this context, one speaks of religion per se, of religious communities in general, or of the religions specifically established in Luxembourg, the latter especially insofar as they have a certain weight. In our country the Catholic Church is the largest community, next to the much smaller parishes of various Protestant and Orthodox churches as well as the Jewish community. Islamic believers have been a novelty in the religious landscape of Luxembourg for several years.

The position chosen by the Luxembourg Commission "Justitia etPax" is deliberately kept very broad in the following considerations, it is primarily functionalist, even if this does not necessarily correspond to the weighting suggested by the self-understanding of the religions and religious communities concerned.

1. Service to people

When asked about their practical relevance, religious communities can refer to their social benefit insofar as they are committed to a service to people or to society. The resulting tasks can be very diverse: help with the interpretation of human existence and history; life support (pastoral care); concrete commitment, in various forms, for people with their worries and problems; social, cultural, political engagement in the world.

The predominantly represented religious communities of the Judeo-Christian tradition exercise various functions in Luxembourg society. This can be reduced to the following short formula - to put it secularly: You try to be the advocate of people. Above all, their diaconal, social-charitable, cultural, educational and pastoral activities are geared towards the well-being of people. The social and other services of the Catholic Church, for example - for the benefit of, among others. families, workers and migrants - are dedicated to the questions and needs of the people affected and are committed to a humane, happy life. Offers and services in these areas are not confessional, but are open to all who need them. The church endeavors to represent the primacy of the human person: the human being as a person always has priority over the collective, over the economy, over opportunity and consumerism, over particular interests of individuals or groups.

2. Social factor

The use of religious communities as advocates for people benefits the general public. In addition to the corresponding help for the affected citizens, it also brings some relief to the state and society. Like other social factors and forces, the religious communities participate in shaping our community by assuming responsibility for the good of the community on many levels as societal intermediate bodies and structures in a pluralistic, democratic and participatory state. In doing so, they can be particularly creative and innovative where the state or other forces are currently inactive or cannot be active. They therefore have a social relevance. Insofar as they emphasize the community aspect, they are also important for community building as a ferment in a society that is drifting further and further apart.

Religious pluralism and tolerance are now - in contrast to earlier times - seen by many religions as an obligation to themselves. This enables people of different beliefs, religious or not, to live and work together. In the concert of the numerous voices that are an expression of modern social pluralism, religious communities also bring their own, be it alone or together with others. For them, this sometimes means a duty derived from their self-understanding; From the point of view of human rights (freedom of religion), seen socio-politically, this is a right to which they are entitled.

3. Opening to transcendence

The common image of man in the democratic state includes all dimensions of being human. This also includes the possibility of spiritual and religious activity. With a view to the holistic nature of the human being, religious communities underline the unavailable transcendent relationship of the human person. They represent that man can outgrow himself and is open to transcendence. They give the related area a certain order. Here they move on their very own territory, for which no other social body is responsible. In this respect, the status of religions must not be reduced to the social, political or cultural aspect that may initially be assessed in a secularized society. In our time, which is strongly oriented towards material goods, religions exercise a counterbalance by relativizing inner-worldly purposes and repeatedly subordinating them to human beings and their holistic orientation.

For such a holistic view of man, the Judeo-Christian tradition refers explicitly to the Bible. In this image of man, alongside all other areas, the religious dimension also has its place. The ethos based on it aims, based on faith, on something universal. The foundation is the human being as an individual and as a community being, in his openness to transcendence. This view, referred to in European intellectual history as the "Christian image of man", is largely accepted in our societies. It is also about the image of man in Western human rights declarations, which are strongly influenced by Christian ideas, although they are historically external and e. Partly in opposition to established Christianity.

4. Mindfulness

If a person asks himself the question of where he is from and where he is going, he is concerned with the basic spiritual values ​​and the overall direction of his life. This question is primarily addressed in the context of a belief that provides tried-and-tested or (potentially) new patterns of interpretation. It turns out that religious authorities - along with art, poetry and philosophy - are preferentially viewed as competent in conveying meaning and are used by people. In the religious horizon, existential depths of being human are opened up and life orientations are offered. Religion keeps the question of meaning alive: this is one of its tasks, one of its services to society.

Religion can become a compass for coping with life, suffering and death, and this increasingly in a time when the loss of meaning is generally increasing and shaping both society and the common attitude towards life of individuals. This (latent as well as factual) role of religion (s) is particularly important in a context of human dissatisfaction, despair, depression and resignation.

5. Cultural aspect

With its religious and ethical content, Christianity as a whole as well as in its various denominational manifestations - in addition to the Jewish and to a lesser extent also the Islamic as well as the traditional Greco-Latin and modern heritage - belongs to the spiritual and cultural patrimony of Europe. In our country rich, religiously seen , especially the Catholic roots deep in the history and mentality of the people. Christianity has made a major contribution to shaping our European and our national identity. Numerous values ​​and ideals, virtues and moral content, celebrations, lifestyle and art are expressions of a strongly Christian culture. Today, the church is also striving for the naturalization of foreign people and is striving for a multicultural civilization - in the name of the inherent concept of universality as well as the concern that reconciles and unites people that it represents.

This positive contribution of Christianity - in addition to the undeniable negative sides of church history - should in any case also be emphasized.

The cultural function of religion remains in our time, even if the religious commitment of today's people is more differentiated in terms of content and degree than the extensive religious practice of yore. The autonomization and pluralization of religious engagement do not in themselves detract from the social plausibility and relevance of corresponding religious communities.

6. Source of Value

The modern democratic state - in addition to the contributions that flow to it from the Greco-Roman antiquity as well as the modern heritage - grew primarily on the humus of Judeo-Christian civilization. This applies inter alia. for fundamental values ​​and principles on which democracy is built: inviolable dignity and rights of the human person, freedom, equality, justice, peace, solidarity, subsidiarity, common good, co-determination ... Even the secularized ethos of our time is in many ways an aftereffect of biblical-monotheistic ideas although this was not always enforced by the churches themselves.

The state - as an ideologically neutral entity - is unable to create or justify these foundations on its own; for this it is dependent on cultural and ethical groups, and thus also on religious and ideological communities. Religious communities play a key role in the establishment of values, since they belong to those bodies that convey basic ethical and moral views and attitudes. The fact that this is happening today in a situation of increasing pluralization of views and values ​​does not in principle diminish their role and importance. In this way, the Christian religion has become an order and stability factor for the pluralistic democratic society.

Supporting religious communities is therefore not an allocation of privileges, but rather the preservation of societal foundations. Last but not least, values ​​are protected by protecting their sources. Passing on such values ​​to the coming generations promotes the continued existence of democracy and democratic consciousness based on these values. Religion can therefore take on the function of a guarantor of democratic values. Not least for this reason, it also deserves a due place in public schools.

7. Protective function of the religious

In addition to the justification of values, religions are called upon to counter a number of dangers for people - which they have not always escaped in history - through their efforts:

- At the political level, the danger of totalitarianism (today again more right-wing extremism) through the defense of the human person;

- On the religious level, the danger of fanaticism and fundamentalism through the insistence on openness, tolerance and dialogue;

- at the economic level, the danger of superficial pragmatism through the underlining of value thinking, responsibility and acting out of conscience;

- On the cultural level, the danger of a post-modern relativism with its arbitrariness through the insistence on the right to take fixed standpoints and stand up for truths.

Religion also has the socially critical mandate (which stems from its orientation towards the transcendent) to prevent economic or technocratic considerations, i.e. H. purely utilitarian considerations and so-called practical constraints that gain the upper hand, and that at the expense of man.

If the religions fulfill this task and if this function of religion is recognized and included by the general public, then the corresponding religious communities can be all the more effective a source of value and a cohesive factor for the population and the state, as well as taking on a corrective function with regard to possible forms of reduction of being human.

8. Religions and "New Religious Movements"

A secularizing Europe promotes irrational and new religious currents, often referred to in public as "sects". In a society that is often characterized by disorientation and newly emerged, often diffuse religiosity ("religosité sauvage"), they step into the breach where the established religions lose ground or where ground is withdrawn from them. These so-called "new religious movements" are to be rejected if they are destructive for people or society, if they create dependency and lead to intolerance.

The individual's right to freedom of religion and conscience does not preclude the rule of law from intervening if religious movements or religions harm people and / or unleash forces that destroy the state and society. In this regard, religions that - such as For example, the communities of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition - want to be enlightened and reason-oriented and stand on the basis of human rights, be a protection against obscurantism and religious madness. If they develop a dynamic that is committed to the world, they are also a barrier and inhibition threshold for diverse forms of human indulgence and resignation. In a time of postmodernism, in which individualism, disinterest and non-commitment prevail, religion can call for the assumption of responsibility.

In this context, the ecumenical efforts between the various Christian churches as well as the interreligious dialogue and the increasing cooperation between the religions, for example at the level of organizations such as the Council of Christian Churches in Luxembourg, the Association interconfessionnelle or the Fondation, are to be regarded as positive, since they promote religious peace internationaledu Dialogue entre Chrétiens, Juifs et Musulmans.

Freedom of religion

Preliminary remark

I. Religious Freedom - What does it require of religions and society?

II. Are religion to blame for violence and war?

III. Religion as a private matter?

IV. On the value of religion and religious communities for Luxembourg society

V. Questions and perspectives

Appendix: Explanation of terms and texts on religious freedom

General Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, December 10, 1948)

Declarationuniverselle des droits de l'homme (Nations Unies, 10 December 1948)

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